FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PAPHOS, 27th NOVEMBER 2016: YORKSHIRE-FAMILY-INVESTORS in Cyprus tell their incredible story of how they overcame years of discrimination and the violation of their implicit business investment rights simply for the opportunity to brew their craft beers & ciders in Cyprus. With TTIP pending and with the newly-signed CETA agreement it raises questions about the integrity of the EU Commission and highlights the dangers of small business investment in the European Union.
William Ginn, retired Chartered Engineer & MBA, and his wife Jean, the company’s Managing Director who was recognised in the 2016 Cyprus Businesswoman of the Year Awards, are co-founders of the highly-successful Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery & Brewpub in Paphos which they say was built “…with our blood, sweat and a great many tears.”.
Ginn said, “Cyprus is a beautiful holiday island steeped in history and girdled by 'Blue Flag'; golden beaches and the clear azure-blue Mediterranean Sea. Paphos is the main resort city and home to the remains of the world’s earliest-known brewery so, within our wide range of classic ales, German-style lagers and fruit ciders, we offer an unusual and unique beer brewed to an archeologically-proven prehistoric local recipe that many guests enjoy. We worked hard to develop our business and we’ve steadily become a very popular venue in Cyprus. Jean and our daughters Laura, our administrator, and Melanie, our qualified brewer, handle day-to-day management. This is our family business team of modern women-entrepreneurs who neatly balance work and family life. Things are looking good.”
But it hasn’t always looked good for this pioneering British family.
He added, “In 2010 we brought money, expertise and entrepreneurialism to Cyprus as Foreign Direct Investors, FDI. We weren’t naïve and asked for nothing but spent well over two years battling day-in day-out to overcome the obstructive and grossly unreasonable bureaucratic, some suggest discriminatory, government hurdles in Cyprus. All possible licensing ‘barriers to trade’ were put in our way but we met all demands. Each time we were knocked down we got back up and fought on. Finally, with no option, we went to the European Parliament in Brussels where Mr Edward McMillan-Scott MEP, the Vice-President for Human Rights, said in his independent report how he was “outraged” at the treatment and all the “unusual and avoidable delays” to which this "respectable and professional company" had been subjected. Our persistent refusal to be beaten finally gained us our ‘Permit to Brew’ as the first and only fully-licensed craft microbrewery in Cyprus. These were stressful and expensive years from which we and our business suffered greatly but we had our unique and valuable permit and we were delighted.
Our upbeat mood and future optimism was, however, to be short-lived when we were suddenly dealt a crushing business body blow. On 15th March 2013 almost all our working capital, invested in our craft microbrewery from years of family business savings, was just taken from our bank accounts. Incredibly, the EU’s Troika and the Cyprus Government decided they would raid the Cyprus banks and simply use the account holders’ money to pay the debts resulting from the incompetence of the former administration.
Overnight our strongly-financed business became completely under-capitalised and our world caved-in around us. I can’t begin to describe our feelings of shock and total despair. Our hearts go out to all affected but we were FDI investors. No thought was given to sparing our business accounts or those of other protected FDI investors. We were just seen as ‘collateral damage’ left trying to survive with our vital business ‘life-blood’ taken.
Please note, this wasn't a commercial banking failure it was a surreptitious political act!
With their private financial agenda prevailing, the EU Commission just 'moved the goalposts', ignored all our protests and conspired to allow Cyprus to similarly ignore its undertaking not to subject FDI investors to such government ‘expropriation without compensation’. This is one of four fundamental pillars of implicit FDI investment rights, strictly adopted by even ‘Third-World’ nations yet crassly cast aside by the self-righteous EU here on our very doorstep. "Invest in Europe" the Sirens called. We trusted the EU’s promises of small business support and protection, as most investors would, and they just marched roughshod over us callously trampling our small family business underfoot without a care.
Many people are amazed that we didn’t just ‘throw in the towel’ after such a devastating betrayal of trust by the EU Commission and our host government but those who come to meet us understand our passion for what we do. This is more to us than just a business. So we fought on, 'hand-to-mouth', and after three more years of long, sleepless nights, serious impact to our health and our marriage of 35 years under huge duress, Jean and I somehow found our way through this and our business today, against all odds, is thriving.
But what the EU did was quite simply wrong and immoral!
We would like to make two points:
Firstly, we understand concerns about the power the Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement, ISDS, mechanisms in the TTIP & CETA agreements gives big corporations but, as you can see, it’s not only businesses that abuse the system! There is no immutable protection and affordable recourse for small-to-medium-sized enterprises, like ours, who suffer government abuse. “Take it to the courts.” people say; but how do you fight a case of expropriation when the very money you need to fight such a costly legal case has been expropriated and you can't trust the legal system to be impartial?
Secondly, we ask how any FDI investors would have the confidence to leave their safe shores to invest in the EU when the ugly, unresolved shadow of this shameful betrayal of FDI investors' rights still hangs over Europe? This ill-considered, knee-jerk reaction in Cyprus was punitive, inconsistently applied and deceptive. Sophistry at its very worst! We call on Ms Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade, and Mr Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus, to compensate all FDI investors affected without delay. In doing so it may return some confidence in the EU as a safe haven for overseas investment.
Today, with all our operating licences in hand, we have a good relationship with the Cyprus Government based on respect. We contribute to the economy, create jobs and stimulate tourism but we could have done much more without this expropriation and just a little support.
We are now seeing big increases in demand from existing customers plus Paphos will be the ‘2017 European City of Culture’ when tourist arrivals will grow to over 3.5 million - a lot of consumers! We must act now by stepping up to higher-volume production to meet our forecasts of demand. We have re-invested all profits but, with almost everything taken, we are still left with a shortfall for the equipment we need.”
To fill the void, the innovative Ginn family plans to harness the power of crowdfunding and invite you to participate. Their crowdfunding campaign will start in mid-December and run for just 30 days. Crowdfunding is not charity; it funds projects from many relatively low-cost purchases by backers wanting to be involved.
Ginn closed by saying, “We're not looking for sympathy but it'd be nice to be given a bit of a break and we hope you'll support us! As you'll see, there are good incentives offered with our campaign. These show big savings on quality items and on our unique local-activity packages of real value and interest to holidaymakers in the ‘Med’. They include our VIP microbrewery experiences, fully-catered celebration packages in the sun perfect for tasteful yet budget-conscious weddings, anniversaries, special birthdays, etc and many others. Plus, all who participate and visit us in 2017 saying “I had a part in this” will get a free pint on us with thanks. If we meet, hopefully exceed, our target Jean and I will not only have the funds to raise production in time for the new season but we will also return to Brussels to let them know the support every Euro you contribute represents. Alone, we are an easily-ignored whisper of protest but if we speak out in unison there's a chance the power-brokers in Brussels may finally listen.
“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out – because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Trades Unions and I did not speak out because I was not in the Union. Then they came for me; but by then there was no one left to speak out for me.” The Rev Pastor Martin Niemoller in Germany 1945 post-WWII.
Even in post-Brexit Britain, or elsewhere, we must speak out about the abuse of power in Europe; while we still can.
Take part in something important and ‘bag-a-bargain’. Check us out, tell your friends, share our campaign on social media and like/follow us. We would ask travel agents, wedding organisers and similar to contact us directly.
Grab a cheap-flight short break or take your 2017 holiday in beautiful Cyprus and book one of our packages for a great day out.
For full details of our campaign see www.cyprusbeer.com/campaign.”
Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery & Brewpub ranks as the No 1 Hospitality Attraction in Tripadvisor’s Top 100+ ‘Things to do in Paphos’. The family brews highly-respected craft beers & ciders and guests can take a nice lunch or dinner alfresco in the traditional courtyard restaurant and join an entertaining brewery tour. They have tastefully converted a picturesque former village winery for the brewery’s use which is set in a lovely valley in the Paphos hills. They’ve a cold one waiting for you.
See: www.aphroditesrock.com.cy email: firstname.lastname@example.org tel: +357 26 101446
Aphrodite's Rock Microbrewery & Brewpub usually ranks as the Number 1 Hospitality Attraction in Tripadvisor’s Top 100+ ‘Things to do in Paphos’ and is a family-run craft microbrewery in Cyprus. Following many years of government obstruction in setting up we are now a highly-successful operation and guests speak very favourably of us. We produce a range of CAMRA-compliant 'Real Ales' and craft beers, lagers & ciders and operate a lovely alfresco restaurant & pizzeria in our traditional stone courtyard. Customers can freely join a informative and entertaining brewery tour. Our brewery is located in a very picturesque former village winery which we have tastefully converted for our brewery use set in a lovely valley in the hills above Paphos. From 2017 we will run a free minibus shuttle from the beach hotels for the convenience of guests. We are a great choice for tasteful yet budget-conscious celebrations in the sun including weddings, stag/hen, special anniversaries & birthdays, etc and low-cost European flights make even a short break attractive.
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